Yesterday, the US reached a critical milestone: it became the first country to record more than 100,000 cases of COVID-19, the illness caused by the novel coronavirus.
Though more people were almost certainly infected in China – epidemiologists have estimated that hundreds of thousands were likely infected in Wuhan alone – the surge in America’s testing capacity, something that’s only going to continue to improve thanks to a slate of new rapid-response tests are hitting the market, means the US will almost certainly record the largest number of infected patients going forward.
Already, the global total of confirmed cases surpassed 600,000 overnight, thanks mostly to the US, though Spain and Italy also reported large numbers of new cases and deaths reaffirming that the lockdowns in each of their respective countries are far from over.
A chart produced by the New York Times and published last night sparked a heated debate online as journalists, scientists and other wannabe ‘experts’ weighed in on the possibility that the outbreaks in New York City, Detroit and New Orleans might be more severe than what Italy has seen in Lombardy.
Source: New York Times
Meanwhile, Spain recorded its deadliest day so far, but new infections are slowing after two weeks of lockdown. The Spanish Health Ministry reported 832 new deaths, bringing the country’s death toll to 5,690 as of early Saturday, a 17% jump. The number of confirmed cases climbed to 72,248 from 64,059. Spain now has the second-highest number of deaths, outside of Italy.
In the latest hint at how the outbreak-induced recession will reverberate through secondary and tertiary industries, Airbnb confirmed on Friday that it’s suspending all third-party marketing work in an attempt to save some $800 million, one of several initiatives that it hopes will save the company lots of money during the crisis. As UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his Health Secretary Matt Hancock strugle to continue performing their duties after being diagnosed with COVID-19, Fitch downgraded the UK’s credit rating from AA to AA-, citing the budget impact of the coronavirus pandemic and continued uncertainty over Brexit.
As a third UK cabinet minister, Scottish Secretary Alister Jack, announces plans to quarantine after showing mild symptoms, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pledged on Saturday to fight the coronavirus outbreak with an economic package of “an unprecedented scale” as Japan reports a sudden resurgence of cases, many of which have been travel-related.
On Saturday, the UK case total climbed to 17,089, while 160 new deaths were confirmed, bringing the UK death total above 1,000, to 1,019.
According to Nikkei Asian Review, Abe said that in addition to pushing through his “boldest-ever” economic stimulus package, his government will deliver speedy approval of the flu drug Avigan as a treatment for those infected with COVID-19.
“We are on the brink,” Abe said at a news conference, referring to the possibility of an explosion of COVID-19 cases in Japan after 63 new infections were confirmed on Saturday in Tokyo, a third-consecutive day where authorities confirmed more than 40 new cases.
Abe also stressed that Japan must be ready for a “long-term battle” to keep COVID-19 from surging out of control and overwhelming health care systems, as it’s beginning to do in Italy and other places, like NYC.
Still, he said “now is not an emergency” and called on citizens to continue taking steps such as avoiding large gatherings to limit infections.
Regarding the economy, Abe said that his government will formulate a “strong stimulus package of unprecedented scale” to lessen this blow to businesses and individuals brought about by the coronavirus. All of this comes after Tokyo’s governor warned about the prospect for an “unprecedented” outbreak if nothing is done.
Meanwhile, the New York Post has been keeping careful track of how many New Yorkers have been dying from COVID-19, and on Saturday, the paper determined that for the past two days, New Yorkers have been dying at a rate of “one every 17 minutes”. That’s up from one an hour nearly a week ago.
On both Thursday and Friday, another 84 people died in the city from the coronavirus, as the number of positive cases and of those who are critically ill also climbed. Total citywide coronavirus cases rose to 26,697, a 4.4% increase from the 25,573 reported Friday morning.
Over in Asia, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, and Hong Kong have recorded unnerving bursts of new cases over the past couple of weeks, but these ‘aftershock’ outbreaks appear to have quieted down in South Korea, while more cases have been confirmed in Singapore, Hong Kong and Tokyo.
Meanwhile, In Seoul, authorities marked a new milestone in the fight against the virus as, for the first time since the start of the outbreak, the number of coronavirus patients being discharged has outnumbered those currently undergoing treatment. Some 4,811 South Koreans have recovered from the virus as of Saturday, while 4,500 patients still remain in isolation and are undergoing treatment.
In the US, Trump signed the CARES Act into law last night, approving direct payments of $1,200 to millions of Americans, including those earning up to $75,000, and an additional $500 per child. It will substantially expand jobless aid, providing an additional 13 weeks and a four-month enhancement of benefits, and for the first time will extend the payments to freelancers and gig workers, an extraordinary step that will go a long way toward quelling the concerns of all those freelance writers who live off handouts from their parents and the occasional paycheck in Brooklyn.
However, across the US, experts are pointing at Abe and Japan as examples of what might happen if the entire country starts going back to normal before the outbreak is truly under control.
As Navy hospital ships head to New York and the West Coast, President Trump on Friday night gave Defense Secretary Mark Esper the power to call up national guardsmen and army medics to serve in the effort to combat the virus. The president said Friday night that the decision will “allow us to mobilize medical, disaster and emergency response personnel to help wage our battle against the virus by activating thousands of experienced service members including retirees.”
It almost sounds like the start of an action movie: somewhere, in the remote mountain west, a former ace army medic is hearing the sound of tires crunching gravel in his driveway…
After President Trump’s approval rating jumped to record highs in the wake of the crisis, some early poll results from this past week suggest that Trump’s insistence that the US get back to work “by Easter” has dented confidence in his handling of the crisis.
Per WaPo, Trump didn’t clarify whether anyone will be involuntarily recalled to duty, but said some retirees have “offered to support the nation in this extraordinary time of need.”
A Pentagon spokesman told WaPo that the order was still being reviewed, and that generally, these members will be persons in Headquarters units and persons with high demand medical capabilities whose call-up would not adversely affect their civilian communities.
“It’s really an incredible thing to see,” Trump said. “It’s beautiful.”
Though we suspect that, like his decision to invoke the Defense Production Act, though he finally did invoke it to try and boss around GM.
Sat, 03/28/2020 – 10:31
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Author: Tyler Durden